Is Folic acid the same as folate?

KEY POINTS

  • Taking folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects in your baby.

  • Folic acid is a manmade or synthetic form of a B vitamin and can be found in foods that labeled “fortified” or “enriched” with folic acid.

  • Folate is the naturally occurring form found in food such as leafy greens and citrus fruits.

  • Eat foods fortified with folic acid or foods with folate along with taking a folic acid supplement to make sure you get enough for you and your baby.

When folic acid is naturally found in food, it’s called folate.  Folic acid is the manmade or synthetic form added to foods and vitamins. Foods with folic acid added to them are called fortified or enriched foods.
Foods that are good sources of folate are:

  • Beans, like lentils, pinto beans and black beans
  • Leafy green vegetables, like spinach and Romaine lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Peanuts (But don’t eat them if you have a peanut allergy.)
  • Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit
  • Orange juice (100 percent juice is best. This means one serving of juice is equal to one serving of fruit.)

Foods that may be good sources of folic acid are listed below. Look for the word “fortified” or “enriched” on labels on foods like:

  • Bread
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Cornmeal
  • Flour
  • Pasta
  • Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa, like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas
  • White rice

How can you get more folic acid?

Eat healthy foods that have folate in it.  Since it can be difficult for most women to get enough folate through food alone, you can get folic acid through supplements like:

  • A multivitamin. This is a pill that contains many vitamins and other nutrients that help your body stay healthy.
  • A prenatal vitamin. This is a multivitamin that has nutrients you need during pregnancy. Your health care provider may give you a prescription for prenatal vitamins, or you can get them over the counter without a prescription.
  • A supplement that contains just folic acid

How do I get ready for pregnancy?

Even if you eat foods that have folic acid in them, take your vitamin supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid each day, even if you are not trying to get pregnant.